The "Fujii Era" has arrived in earnest in the shogi world, where does its strength come from June 6 at 5:17

"I've admired the word 'master' since I was a child, and I have to work even harder in the future so that I can point to the right shogi,"

says Sota Fujii, who became the youngest player to win the oldest "master" title in the eight major shogi titles and became the second player in history to win the Seven Crowns.

As a reporter in charge of shogi, I have been covering the path to the Seven Crowns for the past year. What always impressed me was his humble attitude and dedication to shogi.

Now that the Fujii Era is said to be the "Fujii Era" and the unprecedented title of all titles is in sight, we will unravel the secret of their overwhelming strength through interviews with successive shogi players who have inherited the "lineage of champions".
(Reporter, Ministry of Science and Culture / Yutaro Horikawa)

94 moves of power 5th stage of fierce battle

With one win away from winning the title, the fifth round of the "Meijin Match" came close.

Mr. Fujii, who played against Watanabe Meijin (at that time), took a sip of tea as usual.

Watanabe is a top shogi player who has won three consecutive "Meijin Matches". Mr. Fujii has been deprived of the titles of "Shogi", "Shogun", and "Shogi" one after another.

Bureau 5, which will be Kadoban, had a strategy to guide Mr. Fujii, who had mastered the early stages of AI research, to a form that had almost no precedent.

Even in the afternoon of June 2, when the second day of the competition began, the AI's evaluation values were almost equal.

However, it was just after 6 p.m. after the break. More than 1 members of the press who were waiting begin to commotion. The AI trend graph gradually began to touch Mr. Fujii.

It has a reputation for strength at the end, and the way the AI trend graph touches the Fujii side at once is also called the "Fujii curve".

"The youngest record will be broken tonight"

The Fujii curve continued to rise, and at 6:50 p.m., Watanabe threw it with 6 moves.

Fujii New Meijin is born. He became the youngest person in history to win a virtuoso title and seven crowns.

Sota Fujii
: "I haven't really felt it yet, but I'm very happy and I think it's a very weighty title, so I have to point to the shogi that is appropriate for it."

"I want to be a shogi no meijin"

Fujii started playing shogi when he was five years old when his grandmother gave him a shogi board.

When I was in kindergarten when I was 5 years old, I wrote on my birthday card, "When I get big, I want to be a shogi no meijin."

Now, at the age of 20, he has won his seventh title, "Meijin," and has fulfilled his dream at the time.

Sota Fujii
: "I've admired the word 'virtuoso' since I was a child, so I'm very moved by what I was able to do this time.

How did the "previous" youngest "virtuoso" look at

Mr. Fujii became the youngest person ever to become a master at the age of 20 years and 10 months. The person who has held the record for the youngest person for nearly 40 years is Koji Tanigawa XVII.

Like Fujii, Tanikawa, who became a professional shogi player in junior high school, defeated then-titleholder Kato 1983 dan in <> to win the title of "master".

Koji Tanikawa: "Before and after I entered this world, I changed from Yasuharu Oyama XV to Seiji Nakahara XVI, and my teenage years were equal to the
"Nakahara era." My first title match was a master match, and I thought I wasn't quite good enough, so I was fortunate to be a challenger. By winning other titles, I wanted to get as close as possible to my senior masters."

Mr. Tanikawa recalls that he initially had mixed feelings about the possibility of breaking his record, but about Mr. Fujii's acquisition of a "master" this time ...

Mr. Koji Tanikawa:
"I have come to think that records should be owned by the right people, and if I were to use the words of 40 years ago again, I feel that I was able to safely hand over the records of the youngest master entrusted to me by the XVI Nakahara Meijin to the new Fujii master."

Were you reading more than 30 moves ahead? What is incredible reading ability?

He has participated in 15 title matches, including the "Meijin Match", and has won all of them.

Their unparalleled strength has been talked about in the past, but what Tanikawa emphasizes again is the speed, depth, and accuracy of reading. In this Meijin match, there was a scene where I realized how tremendous it is.

The first round was held in Tokyo in April.

As a result of the swinging piece, Mr. Watanabe was the first move and Mr. Fujii was the second. Held from February to March this year, Fujii won the Six Crowns, and in the fifth game of the "Shogi Championship," the main tactic was to exchange the horns of large pieces at the beginning of the game, called "Kaku Change."

I thought it would be the same this time, but Mr. Watanabe chose a different strategy. The AI's evaluation values are almost evenly matched, and we enter the second day of the game.

And Mr. Fujii's "50 steps" became the 3th move. This move to take the opponent's step took a long thought for 1 hour and 47 minutes.

The title match has a maximum duration of 9 hours.

Mr. Fujii had always said that he was looking forward to thinking carefully, but what was he thinking at that time? In fact, after the game, he revealed that he had read up to "32 Eight Dragons", which was 9 moves away.

It is said that there are more than 32 billion phases of 10 moves, and it is necessary to read thousands of moves. In the match, Mr. Fujii dominated the offensive battle and scored a valuable win in the first match, which was the first move of the opponent.

Watanabe tried to seize the momentum, but lost.

In an interview after the match, he said, "It was a shogi game that didn't close the gap until the end." And what I posted on Twitter that night was "Eguiyonaaaa

It was a game that showed a part of Mr. Fujii's amazing reading ability.

Koji Tanikawa:
"The first round was a heated battle, and I think Mr. Watanabe had a chance, but Mr. Fujii was able to discern the future quite a bit.

What cultivated Mr. Fujii's amazing "ability to read"?

His master, Masataka Sugimoto Hachidan, lists the shogi that he has been working on since he was a child.

Fujii's notebook is full of problems that he has solved, and he says that the number of them is more than 1,<>.

Masataka Sugimoto
: "He was a boy who loved to solve shogi from an early age. Since the answer is clear, I think it led to training to read further and further ahead, and as a result, deepening reading. And in addition to the ability to read, there is still a judgment of the state of what you read. I think I'll stop reading it at some point, but there are cases where the situation is clearly a win or a disadvantage, and cases where it is still a little difficult. I think that the good judgment of the situation and the big picture are also behind the deep reading."

Impatience given by "overwhelming strength"

There is also a view that Mr. Fujii's unwavering dedication to the board and his strength itself may be putting pressure on his opponents and influencing his fingers.

The second day of the fifth stage of the "Meijin Battle" that was the final stage.

As the battle continues, Fujii Shichikaku takes the opponent's "horn", strikes the "4 hexagon" corner, and then steps forward with "6 hexagon" and utilizes the two "horns".

Mr. Fujii entered the competition in a difficult situation, but his opponent, Mr. Watanabe, entered the long contemplation for more than 2 hour and 1 minutes here.

The hand that takes the "horn" that appears as "20 hexagons" with gold is a fixed mark that anyone in a normal shogi player can think of, and AI also showed that it was the best move.

However, Mr. Watanabe did not choose that hand, but "2 Sankatsura" and another hand. As a result, Watanabe-san broke the momentum from there, and in the end, Fujii-san won.

Regarding the "2 Sankatsura" hand after the long thought, Mr. Watanabe reflected in the impression battle, "It was better to take it simply."

On Twitter that day, he posted, "I couldn't read 4 to 6 hex at all, and the percentage of correct answers in such a complex situation was the difference in the entire series, or rather, in the last three years of battles."

On this day, Mr. Watanabe went uncrowned for the first time in about 3 years.

As a result of long consideration, Mr. Watanabe did not take the "corner" that attacked.

Did you think there was any reading of Mr. Fujii's finger?

Takukudan Morishita, executive director of the Japan Shogi Federation, points out that Fujii's unwavering attitude, which continues to win one after another with a calm and calm approach, had a mental impact on Watanabe's hand at this crucial moment.


“藤井時代”本格到来 王者の系譜は






Nakahara: "I feel that Mr. Fujii has shown his usual ability to the fullest, and since he has won seven titles and surpassed his previous senior shogi players, it is clearly the beginning of the "Fujii era." I'm still young, so I wonder how long this will last."

Mr. Nakahara points out that Mr. Fujii's characteristic is that he "casually points to a hand that is not bound by common sense and would not normally come to mind."

Makoto Nakahara:
"I thought that an amazing shogi player had appeared. With the introduction of AI, I think the environment and times are different from my time."

Regarding this point, Mr. Tanikawa also says, "AI recommends that we point to hands that are difficult to point to humans and that tend to be judged as not good as a rule of thumb."

Mr. Sugimoto, a teacher who has mentored Mr. Fujii since he was a child, points out that this "unconventional thinking" and "flexibility to respond to any changes" are partly created by the use of AI.

Fujii used AI-equipped shogi software to thoroughly analyze the lost matches.

In light of my judgment of the situation during the game, I deepened where I lost the momentum by the pointing hand of AI that is not bound by human values.

Masataka Sugimoto
: "In the early stages, the players had a certain amount of experience, so Mr. Fujii, who had just become a shogi player, was not very good at it, or rather, he was not conscious of it. When you become a professional, your opponents will also take advantage of that, so there were quite a few situations where we lost the lead early on and couldn't come back. However, I think that the use of AI has made up for the lack of experience in the early stages. Mr. Fujii's hand has a very high rate of agreement with what AI shows, or rather, the way of thinking is similar. By using AI, it has become possible to respond to any changes. I think that's a big thing."

Sota Fujii is a "thinking genius"

In fact, when Mr. Fujii was in elementary school, Mr. Sugimoto once said, "We don't need AI now.

AI can tell us the answer, but we don't know how to think about it, and we thought that if we used AI while we were young, we might take away the "ability to think" that we had.

Mr. Fujii started using AI when he was in junior high school. We are never delusional about AI's answers, but we think for ourselves about why they are the way they are, digest them, and understand them.

Sugimoto says that AI reinforced Fujii's innate reading ability and brain stamina. In other words, AI has helped us grow even faster.

Mr. Sugimoto describes Mr. Fujii as a "genius of thinking."

We will always tackle everything head-on and respond sincerely. Not only in shogi, but also in everyday life, when answering questions, we reporters value each word and answer them, which we reporters feel on a daily basis.

Mr. Sugimoto was exactly the same for shogi, saying, "I think that is the talent he has."

Hanyu Kudan, who fought with Fujii for the title in the "Ohsho Match" held from January to March, said that he felt that the flexible response ability cultivated by Fujii's AI research was like a standard of aesthetics and ideas.

Zenji Hanyu:
"In shogi, there are 100 or 200 possibilities in many situations, so of course even if you are a professional, you don't think too hard. I think part of my strength is that I can pick up and read a wide range of such points."

Naruka All Crown Conquest The Road to the Eight Crowns

Fujii's new master continues to hone his strength.

Now that we are in sight to win all eight major titles, the title that remains is "Title".

Currently, a tournament has already begun to determine the challenger for the best-of-five title held by Takuya Nagase and usually held in September and October. Fujii won his first match and advanced to the last eight, but he cannot afford to lose a single match in his remaining three encounters to become a challenger.

They must also win the Shogi Championship, which started in June, and the Throne Defense, which will start in July.

Nevertheless, based on his current performance and overwhelming winning percentage, there are growing expectations for the "Eight Crowns" from those around him and fans.

Mr. Fujii talks about this as follows.

Sota Fujii
: "I think we still have a long way to go in terms of that (the Eight Crowns), but I think we are fortunate to be able to aim for it and to have created such an opportunity, so I hope to make the most of it and do my best to get as close as possible."

Fujii Shogi Seeks Strength: Heated Battle Continues

At every press conference accompanying the title match, the question about the "Eight Crowns" comes up almost every time.

Mr. Fujii always replies, "I am not conscious at all."

Mr. Tanikawa, a 17th generation master, said, "Since he became a shogi player, Fujii-san has consistently maintained an attitude of wanting to become stronger and pursue the truth of shogi rather than winning or winning titles, and I think this has led to his current position and ability."

Mr. Nakahara, a master of the 16th generation, also told Mr. Fujii, "The most important thing for a shogi player is to leave a good game score even if the times are different, and I want you to devote yourself to it."

Mr. Hanyu, who is qualified as a 19th generation master, commented, "Achieving an unprecedented record gives great dreams and hopes to children who are interested in shogi, and I hope that he will continue to make further leaps forward and play an active role as a front-runner who conveys the charm of shogi."

Mr. Fujii will continue to pursue strength. On the other hand, of course, there are also shogi players who are standing in the way of "preventing the Eight Crowns".

Will Mr. Fujii further advance his supremacy in the shogi world?

Will someone prevent it?

We can't take our eyes off the famous matches that will continue to unfold in the future.

Horikawa Born in Okayama City, joined the bureau in 2014.
After working in Yamagata and Kagoshima, he has been in the Faculty of Science and Culture since 22.
Currently, in addition to shogi, he is also in charge of publishing and rockets.